Getting Toasted: When a Small Appliance Triggers an Existential Crisis

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This year, I entered into the “excited about small appliances” phase of adult development. It started when I realized that what I really wanted for my birthday was a new blender. The one we got for our wedding in 1998 was taking its last gasps. It was only a matter of time before the little engine that could, actually couldn’t anymore and caught fire. I know this because I could smell smoke sometimes while making smoothies. To be fair, 23 years is a great run for a blender. It was an Oster, so that’s where I started looking and where I ended up. I got the Oster Beehive Blender, which looks almost identical to the old one and I’m thrilled with this fact. While purchasing it, I also sprang for an immersion blender. (Also, an Oster: The turbo function stick mixer hand blender.) Honestly, the immersion blender is even more exciting than the regular blender. I can talk about that thing all day. Oh, the creamy soups I’ve been making! Butternut squash, tomato bisque and cauliflower are all on the menu at our house these days. I’m basically a chef now. Cut to this weekend when I pulled the trigger on replacing the much put-upon toaster. For several years I’ve been threatening to get a new one. The poor thing is scratched and dented so horribly; it looks like it was tossed out a second-story window and kicked down the street. I don’t know how it got so beat up, but my guess is 10 years, and three moves will do that to a small appliance. The settings are unreadable, and it takes about three rounds of toasting to get anything even lightly browned. Poor thing. Its relief showed up earlier this week in the way of a Black and Decker, 8-slice, extra wide convection countertop toaster oven with bake pan, broil rack and toasting rack. Ya’ll, I may have gone too far this time.

After liberating Thor — that’s what I’ve started calling it for reasons that will soon become clear — from his box, I immediately started to feel anxious. At 14.5-inches by 22-inches by 11.5-inches, Thor looks more like something you’d find in a commercial kitchen than a small home kitchen appliance. Despite comparing the measurements to the space where we planned to put it, I didn’t think it would be so … Thor-ish. I was clearly in denial. Or too dazzled by the words “convection oven” and visions of myself removing evenly baked sweets from it, for the dimensions to really sink in. Also, why was I wearing a butcher apron and chef’s toque in the daydreams? Obviously, there are a lot of questions to answer, but it all boils down to the realization that I have no clue how to use this device. In fact, I haven’t used it. Is it weird to be intimidated by a toaster? That said, the hubby is already in love because Thor reheated his pizza last night and it was a work of perfection. So, basically, I bought a pizza reheating device.

I’m out of my depth here, people. I became a person who owned an immersion blender, got cocky and thought I was the kind of person who uses a fancy toaster oven. It turns out, I can’t handle the truth! Or something like that, but you get the picture. I am in fact not a chef! I’m just a regular person careening into mid-life existential despair. It was bound to happen, but who knew the trigger would be a toaster oven? I’m sure I’ll be fine, but in a rare moment of vulnerability I’m appealing to you, dear readers, for your help and expertise. If you know anything about fancy toaster ovens, have recipes to share or have the number for a therapist or life coach specializing in culinary narcissism, do comment or email me at



Categories: Bon Vivant